Julia Alvarez was born on March 27, 1950, in New York. Her family returned to the Dominican Republic, where Alvarez spent the first ten years of her life in comfort, surrounded by an extended family. Alvarez’s grandfather, a cultural attaché to the United Nations, and her uncles, educated at Ivy League colleges, maintained their ties with the United States. Along with her sisters, Alvarez attended the American schools; in her words, she had an “American childhood” on the island.
From 1930 to 1961, the Dominican Republic was under the ruthless dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, a tyrant who had maintained his hold on power by unprecedented repression. As Trujillo’s thirst for absolute control bred further corruption, Alvarez’s father became involved in anti-Trujillo activities. Alvarez’s idyllic childhood came to an abrupt end when a plot to remove the dictator from power was unearthed. With the looming possibility of Dr. Alvarez’s arrest, the family left for the United States.
Life in Queens, New York, offered a stark contrast to the family’s earlier lifestyle. Her “American childhood” had not prepared the ten-year-old Julia for the realities of American life. She missed her friends and cousins and yearned to be accepted in school, but her accented English set her apart from others. In desperation, Alvarez turned to books and eventually writing, which became a substitute for her island home and initiated...
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Alvarez takes her writing seriously; for her it is an important, life-saving activity. When she began her career, there were few authors in English writing about the Latino experience; she was inspired by Maxine Hong Kingston’s renowned book The Woman Warrior (1976). With her first successful novel, Alvarez opened the door for others who have enriched American literature with insights into the Hispanic world.
Initially focusing on the individual experience, Alvarez has gradually expanded her horizon. Her portrayal of the Dominican American world has a wide-ranging appeal. With her vivid and poetic language, she has captured the hearts and minds of her readers.
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Shortly after Julia Altagracia Maria Teresa Alvarez was born in New York City, her family returned home to the Dominican Republic to live among their large, extended family. In 1960, her father took the family back to New York because he was wanted for his involvement in a failed plot to overthrow dictator Rafael Trujillo. Thereafter, Julia Alvarez lived in the United States, making visits to her extended family in the Dominican Republic. She married and became the mother of two children. Along with her husband, she became involved in the political life of the Dominican Republic.
After two years at Connecticut College (1967-1969), Alvarez transferred to Middlebury College, from which she graduated summa cum laude with...
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